Luthando Mapepa Chipinge Correspondent
AT least 26 people from Chipinge district last week paid a cumulative $2 800 in fines for breaching the Forests Act.
The 26 offenders were nabbed during an operation code-named Osalama, which was led by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) supported by parastatals such as Zesa Holdings, Zimbabwe Rvenue Authority (Zimra) and Environmental Management Agency (EMA).
The operation was meant to curtail movement of timber, monitor commercial timber traders’ activities and unsanctioned trade in products such as firewood and charcoal.
District forestry officer Mr Classport Karimanzira confirmed the development saying such a blitz would be periodically done to protect the forests.
He said local people had a role to play in protecting the environment as it was discovered that offenders were conniving with some locals to destroy forest resources.
“Yes, I can confirm that 26 offenders were nabbed and heavily fined for tampering with our forests. In the five days of the operation we have managed raise $2 800 in fines from these offenders,” he said.
Mr Karimanzira said the bulk of the offences involved the unlicensed transportation of timber.
“Through the help of other stakeholders such as police who manned 24-hour roadblocks and EMA, we have managed to conduct night raids in which we apprehended many culprits who were transport timber at night without proper documentation.
“We have discovered that the bulk of the timber is being illegally transported at night from Chipinge to other parts of the country where there is a high demand for the product.
“We also managed to confiscate indigenous charcoal and firewood from villagers. Most of these people fail to produce timber movement licences upon request,” he said.
Mr Karimanzira noted that many commercial timber traders were also fined after failing to produce paper- work for their timber operations in different areas of Manicaland.
Mr Karimanzira said all the offenders were charged under the Communal Lands Forestry Produce Actas well as the Forests Act.